More Ideas for Minimum Viable Products

We are talking about Minimum Viable Products again! Here are some other ways to test your ideas to see if they have legs.

Note from Sarah: This article was originally sent via my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers receive essay style pieces like this before anyone else. Click here to subscribe!

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Woo boy, I don’t think I’ve ever had such a response to an email newsletter in as long as I’ve been (intermittently) sending this baby out as I did last week.

I so appreciate all the replies and notes! I swear I read every single and I try to reply to each message as well. So many folks shared their personal experiences in being scared to launch things, having an idea that they didn’t know how to test, or not knowing where to start—we’re really not alone in all this! ?

The cool thing is that lots of you lovely folks sent me even more ideas to add to my list last week, as well as some good resources and info about MVPs—here are a few a particularly liked.

This article from the founder of Doki, an online learning SaaS, is fan-freaking-tastic:

You can’t expect to build your idea alone, in secret, hoping to dazzle customers with a perfectly beautiful and polished digital product without getting real customer feedback. 

I am politely giving the middle finger to BIG. 

Bigger is not better. More is not better. To clarify, I have nothing against big dreams. Big dreams are important.

The problem is that people get so focused the big vision that they want so bad, they can’t see the first step. Or they’re afraid to take the first step. They’ve built up the idea so big and perfectly in their head, that they: Become paralyzed by inaction (or perfection) Don’t have the resources, bandwidth or capacity to pull it off, so it gets delay until “someday” Spend a ton of money/time building something that doesn’t get any traction, because it’s trying to do way too much (not solving a specific enough problem)

My brilliant friend Lindsay Goldner (she’s looking for a full-time creative position, btw) shared that the Creative Pep Talk discussed this same topic on their podcast this past week—check it out here!

I love the podcast The Business of Authority (disclosure: I’m in the co-host Jonathan’s private Slack channel so I low key am connection to them, but I liked the podcast beforehand) but I’d forgotten that they featured Paul Jarvis and the notion of “testing with a tweet” notion to gauge interest in a product.

And here are a few more ways people shared with me that they or people they know of have tested MVPs to see if their Big Idea has legs:

  • Do you know about Substack? I didn’t until recently! Talk about a cool way to test a lot of things, including membership programs. What it is is a newsletter tool that lets you co-mingle public and paid newsletters. Someone I follow on twitter has 1,000 subscribers on substack that pay $5 a month for her weekly newsletter. Do the math on that and your brain might explode. ?(Mine sure did.) TrueHoop, the venerable basketball blog, recently relaunched on Substack and I’m hearing that their numbers are quite impressive. Cool, right?

  • Sharing comics or illustrations on Instagram? Consider a patreon or similar for folks who love your work! You may be surprised that there’s a way to monetize your passion.

  • Successfully selling a product at farmers’ markets but not ready for bricks and mortar? Perhaps it’s time to start taking pre-orders or delivery orders! JotForm is free for up to 100 submissions or 10 payments and dead simple to set up. Our super cool client Sustain LA, a zero waste expert, uses this on her site and it’s awesome!

  • This may be waaaaay out of a lot of people’s comfort zones (it terrifies me) but if you’re good at teaching and sharing, IGTV is really nifty! Makeup artists, business consultants, speakers could all benefit from exploring this unique platform that seems to be still ripe for opportunity.

  • Poet or author? Consider tweeting some of your best lines or excerpts! See what resonates.

  • Are you an artist? Thinking about trying to sell your work? You can sell on instagram, no website (for now) needed! I have several friends who are making a comfortable income doing this. Here’s a guide from Hubspot about how to make this work for you.

  • Considering adding a membership component to your business? Stark a Slack community for free and see if folks are interested!

  • Are you wondering if your iPad illustrations may have broad appeal but don’t want to invest in the start up capital needed to produce goods? Sites like Society6 can be a great option to see if there’s a market!

  • Similarly, Spoonflower is great for surface designers too!

  • Is your blog popular? What about turning your best essays into a nicely formatted ebook and selling it via Squarespace or Shopify or even Amazon? You may be surprised that there’s a market for your unique perspective.

Have more ideas for simple ways to launch your thing? Just leave a comment and I’ll add to this resource list!

Have a question about Minimum Viable Product? Lots of folks book strategy sessions with me to hash out issues like this.

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